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Learn How to Motivate Employees

Updated on August 1, 2011
Motivate Employees
Motivate Employees | Source

Learning how to motivate employees should be a requirement for managers. Keeping employees motivated, focused, and satisfied is not easy. We people are tricky animals and we are sometimes not in the mood to cooperate, or feel abused, or act in petty ways, or are envious of others, and so on. Organizational life is complicated, because an organization is a complex social system and so is the larger culture that it is part of. Thus motivating employees is not always straightforward. But here are some principles that can help

Deliver Justice to Motivate Employees

Employees are constantly making equity comparisons and are sensitive to any lack of fairness they may perceive in the organization. They need to be allowed to ask questions without feeling intimidated or their feelings and attitudes will suffer. Wise managers will check on the perceptions and feelings of their associates on a regular basis in order to correct any misunderstandings and to identify and redress any valid grievances.

Communicate Proactively to Motivate Employees

Because motives are invisible, behaviors out of the ordinary such as sudden changes in company policy or procedures need to be explained to the workforce in advance so that everyone understands the rationale. Otherwise people will attribute the most amazing motives to the unexplained behavior changes. We are geniuses at ascribing all sorts of negative motives to other people in the absence of open and direct communication.

Act Ethically to Motivate Employees

Managers need to behave ethically at all times lest they undermine the organization's mission and goals as well as employee morale. Employees will not be motivated to behave well if managers don't set the example with personal and professional conduct that is beyond reproach. Managers who do lead by their good example are invariably good motivators.

Accept Responsibility to Motivate Employees

Management needs to start with its own accountability - it has responsibility for the design of systems and procedures that sometimes don't work as well as they should. Managers need to be in constant pursuit of truly profound knowledge such as that provided by statistical quality control and mathematical models that explain differences in outcomes much better than blaming the employees who are to some extent the prisoners of systems created by management. Often it is only management who can fix what's wrong but they don't know how because they lack the depth of knowledge required. It's hard to motivate employees who are being blamed for outcomes beyond their control.

Serve Your Associates to Motivate Them

Organizations thrive and prosper when they identify and exploit opportunities and effectively counter threats. It's the job of management to see that their entire organization is focused on seizing opportunities and on overcoming obstacles and threats. Once the strategy is determined and plans are in place the role of management is to serve its associates by giving them the knowledge, training and support they need and deserve. When management serves instead of commands, morale increases and performance improves.

Be Inclusive in Planning to Motivate Employees

Bottom up planning involves the troops who are in direct contact with the customers and their issues and this can pay enormous dividends for the organization. Valuable knowledge and market intelligence resides in all levels of the organization. Management needs to incorporate these employee-based assets into the planning process. Morale and motivation will be enhanced as a result of not overlooking critical inputs by many people who are not normally consulted when planning is done.

Be Quick and Accurate with Recognition to Motivate Employees

Recognition delayed is recognition denied. Recognition overlooked is morale damaged. Recognition usurped by a supervisor unfairly taking credit belonging to someone else is morale broken. Unfortunately, there are many pitfalls in recognition programs. But public recognition of solid contributions or great performances is expected in our culture and needs to be observed to keep motivation high.

Final Considerations on Motivating Employees

If the organization is prospering and growing, all things are made easier. A good business model and capable senior management are invaluable assets.

One person can't change the culture of an entire organization. Be careful not to preach to those unwilling to listen.

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